Over the past few years we’ve witnessed an ever-increasing number of cosmetics, in particular, peelings, scrubs and even toothpaste that contain microbeads to increase their “abrasive” action, but what exactly is a microbead and why is it at the centre of a huge ecological debate?
A microbead is made of plastic and is formulated from ethylene oxide polymer the same material that is used for plastic bags (that have recently been banned from French supermarkets). They bring added fluidity and softness to cosmetics as their shape is regular and slides easily over the surface of the skin.
Whilst they have been subject to extensive research in terms of innovation and they are not exactly “dangerous” for our organisms they are becoming a hazard to the environment and to our ecosystems.
The problem is that these fine particles are not biodegradable and cannot be filtered by water purification stations as they are far too small. This means that sadly, they are found floating around at the bottom of the ocean where they are eaten by marine fauna that, as a result are intoxicated.
So, what is being done to help avoid this huge ecological disaster?
In the US a law has been voted banning the use of microbeads in cosmetics and other personal hygiene products. The production of products containing these microbeads will stop in July 2017 and the sale of these products should cease completely by 2018. However, what’s the deal in Europe?
The Netherlands was the first country in the European Union to pull the alarm bell on “plastic soup” back in 2009. Since then the “Beat the Microbead” campaign is progressing significantly and Cosmetic Europe that represents more than 4000 personal care product manufacturers has issued a recommendation to remove microbeads from cosmetics and companies should be seeking out natural replacement exfoliants, such as ground fruit seeds and shucks.
In the meanwhile the regular consumer like you or me can simply become aware of which products contain these microbeads and stop buying them! The list can be found on http://beatthemicrobead.org/en/product-lists
At La Rivière we are very careful not to carry any products that contain microbeads and we already propose alternatives such as the gentle, water based peeling that contains rice bran and seaweed and that is produced by our gorgeous Japanese brand V10 Plus or alternatively INTENSIFY or TONE CONTROL peeling disks from Colbert MD. Our dental hygiene range Beverly Hills Formula alors offers microbead-free alternatives too in the whitening toothpaste sector with Perfect White Black that contains activated charcoal or Perfect White Gold containing real gold dust!
Being informed is the first step to being a responsible consumer so “watch out, there are mircrobeads about”!